Contributor: W. Travis Stewart, LPC, NCC, writer for Addiction Hope
Step 7: Humbly ask Him to Remove our Shortcomings
Yesterday I was working with a client who wanted to enroll in a Linear Algebra class at the local community college for the fall semester. This is not a normal conversation in my counseling sessions and the fact that I just typed the phrase, “Linear Algebra” means that I was operating outside of my comfort zone. The reason for this discussion was that he needed to email a professor with questions about the prerequisites for the class and whether or not previous classes he had taken would be sufficient. I was simply glad I didn’t have to take Linear Algebra or even a class that involves long division.
Step 7 sounds simple enough, “Humbly ask [God] to remove our shortcomings” yet, this step requires a spiritual maturity most of us have not fully attained – not to mention the prerequisites involved.
Prerequisite #1: You have to acknowledge that you have shortcomings
This is a bitter pill to swallow for some. Many have been taught “not to let them see you sweat” and never let others see your flaws. But to ask God to remove your shortcomings you must admit the shortcomings exist.
Others don’t have any problem in admitting their shortcomings. In fact, wallowing in their flaws is a favorite past-time. This, of course, is a shortcoming that needs to be removed.
Humility is not the same as refraining from bragging or refusing to receive a compliment. Humility is not self-hatred and calling yourself worthless. Humility boils down to this; telling the truth about yourself.
What are your strengths? What are your shortcomings? No veneer, no fancy packaging, no self-condemnation, no dishonesty. What is true about you? Admitting the truth about yourself and giving up the game on building a false image to impress yourself and others is the essence of humility.
Richard Rohr writes,
[T]here is nothing on which people are so fixated has on their self-image. We are literally prepared to go through hell just so we don’t have to give it up. It determines most of what we do or don’t do, say or don’t say, what we occupy ourselves with and what we don’t. We’re all affected by it. The question is: do I have the freedom to be anything other than this role and image? 
Prerequisite #2: You have to admit that you can’t remove the shortcomings yourself
As difficult as it may be to admit you have shortcomings that’s nothing compared to admitting you can’t remove them yourself. As much as we hate to have our flaws seen by others the feeling of being powerless is much worse.
My 15 year old son recently received his driver’s permit. This is an exciting time for him and I’m confident that he will learn to be a good driver. He is conscientious, alert and careful. And yet, sitting in the front passenger seat while he drives is an exercise in feeling powerless. I don’t own a car like the cars at Driver’s Ed schools. You know, the kind that has an extra set of pedals on the passenger side. If he is going too fast or not stopping soon enough, I have no way of stepping on the brakes or turning the wheel myself. I have to admit he is in the driver’s seat. That is the only way he will learn to drive.
Our natural tendency, when we humbly come face-to-face with our flaws, is to want to first defend ourselves. Once we get past that, we want to fix the flaws. However, this results in a self-protective movement away from God and a reliance, once again, on our own efforts to fix a problem. Isn’t that, in many ways, a good definition for an addiction—me trying to find my own way to make my problems go away.
An Active Choice
To humbly ask God to remove our shortcomings means stepping out of the driver’s seat and into the role of a passenger. This is NOT passive. It is a very active choice of submission and trust. Every time I choose to turn the keys over to my son I am actively telling him, “We are in this together. I’m putting my life in your hands.” There is nothing passive about that. Terrifying? Yes. Passive? No.
When we try to solve our own problems we just end up back where we started. Albert Einstein is credited with saying, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”
What does he mean? Well, take for example, someone struggling with perfectionism. If she is lucky she will, at some point, come to realize that there is a dark side to perfectionism and that her insistence on everything being ‘just right’ will drive a wedge between her and her relationships and her peace of mind. So, she realizes it is a problem and she wants to work on changing it. What will her instinct be? To work on her recovery from perfectionism perfectly. That’s the way we are wired apart from God.
To again quote Richard Rohr, “Don’t ‘go after’ your sin directly or you will only confirm your stance and your willfulness.” In other words, you will use the same approach to solve your sin and remove your shortcomings that you know best and that will only make matters worse. That approach that is self-reliant rather than God-reliant.
We must have a savior to save us from our shortcomings. Rescue only comes from outside ourselves. When faced with struggle we naturally turn inward, toward our own solutions, our own power, our own effort. Even when we turn to others we often are just using them to be a band aid or balm to our pain.
God invites us to turn away from the self. Jesus repeatedly taught the principle that to experience life we must make choices that feel like dying. Our self has to get out of the driver’s seat and hand over the keys. This is painful but it is where the deeper work of the soul happens.
Community Discussion – Share your thoughts here!
What has been your experience with giving up control over your addiction and giving up control to your higher power? What steps did you take to move towards releasing the controls?
About the Author:
Travis Stewart has been mentoring others since 1992 and became a Licensed Professional Counselor in 2005. His counseling approach is relational and creative, helping people understand their story while also building hope for the future.
- Rohr, R. and Ebert, A (202). The Enneagram: A Christian perspective. New York: The Crossroad Publishing Company. Page 26.
Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on August 24, 2015. Published on AddictionHope.com